It’s the time of year when families all over the country pack their suitcases, stuff the car full of flotation devices, and set off on the yearly vacation. When I was little, my parents decided to do the same thing. I was eleven, my sister Kelli was nine, my sister Bethany was four, and my brother Robby was one when mom announced we were going to Disney World in Florida for four days! We were excited, really excited. No one could possibly expect what was coming.
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We loaded our van early that June morning and set off for every child’s Promised Land. Bethany was looking forward to Disney the most. The drive was long and the weather was hot. We arrived in Florida late in the evening and it was still very hot. Little did we know that Florida was having the hottest June on record that very week. The next morning Bethany woke us up bright and early to go to Disney World. Moving quickly was not part of the plan in our household. We did not travel light because we needed provisions for the day ahead. My dad purchased a video camera before our trip. It was the on the shoulder 1988 model and dad wanted to make sure it was protected. He carried it in a suitcase (yes a suitcase) with an egg foam mattress that he cut to fit inside. You could drop it from the Empire State building and it would survive the fall. Anyway, we had a two person stroller for Robby and Bethany but one of the seats was taken by the video camera. We also packed a cooler full of food and drinks for lunch because my sister had allergies and a particular diet. Robby had a separate bag of clothes since he was potty training and with that you need “the special bag”. We arrived at Disney World as vacationing Bedouins from the Sahara; our stroller loaded like a camel ready for a long trek through a sand storm.
The first day of Disney was scorching hot. As a preadolescent being forced to hang out with her ‘uncool’ family, I was mostly worried about the heat on my hair. We waited hours in lines for the rides and then hours for the bathroom – because someone always had to go right after we’d just left the restroom with someone else. A ride on Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride was perfect because you rode in an air conditioned submarine. We settled in our seats and the boat began to submerge under water. Robby let out a shriek as though he was being kidnapped. He was so terrified that my dad held him. It was a mistake. Robby didn’t settle down, he went to the bathroom on my dad in terror. Disney World stopped the ride and made us get off. No one in our family spoke to each other during the next ride, the Peter Pan adventure. My parents decided to leave early and to return that night for the fireworks and cooler weather.
Later, we arrived at the park with dry pants and a fresh attitude. The Dumbo ride was our choice. It began turning as the nighttime fireworks started. Dad held Robby just as a red star exploded overhead. I think at that point my parents regretted the timing of their potty training – because my brother struck again. By this time, Bethany was furious that her Disney experience was being “ruined” and she wasn’t afraid to let us know it. Kelli and I fought amongst ourselves about who would push the stroller that was starting to feel heavy like pushing a Sherman Tank.
The next day we visited Epcot Center. The day started very well. As the weather warmed up we sought out venues with indoor attractions. There was a Michael Jackson movie in 3D complete with the special glasses. We welcomed the air conditioning and were grateful for a cool spot with a comfortable chair. Robby sat in Dad’s lap. The movie started with Michael Jackson throwing 3D flames toward the audience. We should’ve never selected that movie. Robby screamed, used the bathroom on Dad, and Disney World made us leave the theater. Bethany was now seething that Disney was crumbling and became hysterical. When Bethany cried, it was dramatic. She was loud and sounded like we were doing something bad to her to make her cry that way. The passersby stared at us in judgment. I hid behind the stroller. Kelli was getting itchy from the heat. My parents looked like they needed psychiatric medicine to get through the vacation….
We went back to the Howard Johnson and swam in the pool for the rest of the day. We gave the remaining days of our Disney passes to another lucky family that didn’t have so many little kids (or a stroller) and wished them well. Our family hasn’t talked much about that trip since then; my parents recovered following the marriage counseling and Bethany forgave us for the princesses she missed. My anxiety upon hearing the song “It’s a Small World After All” is getting much better. But I still have no desire to visit Disney World, like ever again.
Julie, The Effortless Girl, is from a small (teeny tiny) community in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina. The Effortless Girl was born out of a desire to challenge herself to find accessible, unique lifestyle ideas with cost savings in mind. LEARN MORE >